I stumbled across these guys at the One of a Kind Show in March and couldn’t resist their little felt faces! From Harry Potter and Bob Marley to dudes that resemble your actual boyfriend (they’re called “Custom Brooch Boyfriend”), wear your love on your heart/sleeve/touque wherever you go.
Graphic designer and creator of Brooch Boyfriends Hannah Browne runs her independent business in Toronto, making each little boyfriend by hand. I asked Hannah how Brooch Boyfriends, which has caught the eyes of The Globe and Mail and CTV Canada Am, all started and what’s next for the felt cuties.
219days: How did the idea for Brooch Boyfriends come about? They’re so unique!
Hannah: Brooch Boyfriends came about in an unexpected way. I was talking with some friends one day and those old “pet rocks” came up in conversation. I thought to myself, ‘What a strange concept!’ but the idea stayed with me. People carrying around something they love… what about people carrying around someone they love? And who wouldn’t want to show off that love, in the form of a little felt face?
219days: How did you start your business?
Hannah: I had the idea ruminating in my head for a few weeks. One day I decided to take action: I went to De Serres, bought some felt, and made one! The first prototype (with brown skin and purple hair) showed me a few things I could be doing differently, but overall he worked right away! I took that as a sign and just started making. I applied to my first craft show a couple of months later, and although there were more sellers than customers, I couldn’t wait to do more.
219days: You make custom Boyfriends. What is your process to get to the final brooch?
Hannah: Someone will contact me with a custom order request and I ask them to send me a photo or two of the person and let me know of any special features. I illustrate the person in my own brooch style and use the illustration as a stencil. I cut out, embroider, and stitch the pieces of felt together and voilà! A Brooch Boyfriend is born.
219days: What’s next for Brooch Boyfriends?
Hannah: My goal for Brooch Boyfriends is to get them worldwide! It would be so neat to be on holiday somewhere far and walk down the street and see a Brooch Boyfriend on someone’s jacket. I’m still a ways away from that, since I haven’t even seen it here in Toronto, but it’s something to work toward. I’d also like to find a way to increase production time. With more wholesale orders coming in, it’s getting harder to keep up! A good problem to have, I suppose.